Richard Strauss

Capriccio

Capriccio

A conversation piece for music


Music Director and Conductor: Valery Kritskov

Stage Director: Alla Chepinoga

Set and Costume Designer: Victor Gerasimenko

Computer graphics and animation by: Sergey Savko, Roman Kuligin, Daniil Gerasimenko

Lighting Designer: Aivar Salikhov

Choirmaster: Yulia Senyukova


Running time: 1 hour 50 minutes with no intermission


Premiered on 3 October 2012

Recommended for 12+


Taken off in 2015

How to solve a love triangle? Commission an opera!… who knew?

That’s exactly what the Countess Madeleine, the heroine of Strauss’ Capriccio, did. She and her brother host a group of artists, who rehearse the entertainment for Madeleine’s birthday. The Countess is an ardent art lover and among her guests are the poet Olivier, the composer Flamand, the theatre director La Roche, who acts as the stage director of the future performance, and the famous actress Clairon. They are eating, drinking and arguing passionately about theatre and opera. The poet Olivier and the composer Flamand are rivals for Madeleine’s love. The situation is aggravated by the fact that they are also rivals in art, each considering his art the greatest. To resolve the argument the Countess commissions them to write an opera, in which they are to describe themselves and the situation, and she will decide the following morning how the opera will end. But what is going to be her decision? Which of them will Madeleine choose?

Capriccio (1941) is the last completed opera by Richard Strauss to the libretto by the conductor Clemens Krauss written jointly with the composer after Stefan Zweig’s scenario. Infused with humour and wit, the opera is a chef-d'oeuvre of the master who traveled a long way to achieve his own understanding of the opera art (Strauss was 77 when he finished Capriccio). The love triangle gave cause for an original dramatized conversation about the role of words and sounds in musical theatre and the purpose of the poet and of the composer in it.

Strauss’ opera works are not well known in Russia. Capriccio, for one, has never been performed in Russia and its production at the Novaya Opera can be rightfully called its Russian premiere. The project of the production suggested by the young stage director Alla Chepinoga has won an Open Stage grant. The Open Stage is a company founded by the Department of Culture of the Moscow City; its mission is to develop theatre and support young artists. The music director of the production is Valery Kritskov. Their creative alliance with Alla Chepinoga has already resulted in the production of the opera triptych Voice of a Woman, successfully performed in the Novaya Opera. Victor Gerasimenko, the art director of the theatre, has created the design for Capriccio.

The premiere of Capriccio will be one of the events during the Year of Germany in Russia.

The motto of the Year of Germany in Russia 2012/13 will be “Russia and Germany: we build the future together”. From June 2012 till June 2013, Germany will be represented throughout Russia by a wide range of projects embracing politics, economy, culture, education and science. The Year of Germany is aimed to strengthen the Russia-Germany entente cordiale, suggest solutions for global issues and open new avenues for a joint future of Russia and Germany. The Year of Germany 2012/13 is organized by the Goethe-Institut, the Ministry for Foreign affairs of Germany, East Committee for German Economy with the support of the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce.

Alla Chepinoga, stage director:

Capriccio is a unique work by its nature as the author defined it as a conversation piece for music. Our production too will be unique, combining intellectual music and glam design, a simple story and its sophisticated interpretation… We will try to address the eternal question “which came first the chicken or the egg”, drama or music, in different theatrical idioms. In store for the audience are metaphoric sets, video installations, mask characters, elements of the theatre of the absurd and many surprises.

Theatre reflects our life like a mirror and that is why we use a lot of mirrors in our sets. But what happens behind the looking-glass, in the depth of a loving woman’s heart full of art? The answer to this question one should guess in the finale.

Victor Gerasimenko, designer:

The flowing lines of Capriccio’s sets are inspired by the music characterized by a smooth, edgeless theme. It has no acute conflicts, only a flowing conversation. From this comes the plasticity of the interior, in the middle of which there are stairs and incomplete lines like in art nouveau. However there are no traits of art nouveau in the banisters or decoration. I do not use a stylized design but a mixture of styles. I suppose the sets resemble a present-day pavilion with many mirrors. Why mirrors? Because this opera is about the non-reality and delusiveness of everything: feelings, love, characters – they all are but reflections.

We use a screen in the sets. It is part of a present-day interior with a fish tank full of swimming fish, which rich people can afford. Something is going to happen in the tank. What exactly? It is a secret yet. This is a projection which will be interacting with reality.
This opera is meant for a refined audience, but I think that productions like this should be in the repertoire. It is works like Capriccio that develop taste.

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